I’ve always been confused by the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement, and I think it is less important what you call it as a small business owner, and more important that you just decide what is really most important for your business – and then continually keep those things top of mind.
For me, from the very first draft of the business plan, having Toronto’s best cupcakes and providing exceptional service have been my two “things”. Some business planning books say that every single thing you do as an entrepreneur should be related to the company’s vision but that feels unrealistic to me- for example, how does an ad campaign fit into superior product/exceptional service? At least that’s my feeling.
More than just words
But simple reinforcement of the chosen principles is sometimes harder than it looks. My experience has been that the really heaving lifting is in the first year because at that point in a new business, the owner’s vision is just in his or her head. So you need to model what you want and expect to the team all the time. For example, in customer service, in the beginning, some people on the team couldn’t quite understand the idea of replacing an order of cupcakes which the customer dropped leaving the store- and their inclination would have been to respond to “allegations” that the cupcakes were day old with a vehement “no, they’re not!”. But after awhile everyone realized that I don’t want to win an argument with a customer – I want the customer to be happy. And although we can’t always do that – for example, customers can get upset about our cut off times for advance orders – I don’t think a business can attempt to have exceptional service if it doesn’t do its best to take the high road whenever it can and respond promptly and as kindly as possible to customers’ concerns and requests.